By Max Denning

Members of the Elgin community could not recall the last time Elgin High School had a blood drive. Freshman Shelby Sannar and the Elgin Future Business Leaders of America changed that earlier this month, when they organized the school’s first blood drive — and they hope to make it a twice-annual event.

With the Red Cross’ assistance, the Elgin High School FBLA chapter held a blood drive Dec. 21 and helped 31 people donate 32 pints of blood. Sannar estimated about four students donated blood, along with many members of the community.

Every year Katie Griffin, business education teacher at Elgin and the FBLA adviser, said the club takes part in a big community service project. For this year’s project, Griffin said she wanted the project to serve the community as a whole.

Griffin said Jayden Palmer and Sannar took the lead in organizing the blood drive. Sannar said she got the idea when her mom gave blood at another blood drive.

“I just thought, why don’t we do a blood drive?” Sannar said.

The organizing process got off to a slow start in late August and early September. Both Sannar and Griffin said they had trouble finding the correct Red Cross representative, and because of Elgin’s small size, the Red Cross was willing to come to the town only if they were already in the area. But, as the fall went on, Sannar said the process became easier.

“Once we found the right person it went super smooth,” she said.

Sannar, Palmer and the other students in the EHS FBLA were in charge of recruiting participants, setting up refreshments and providing other assistance for the Red Cross workers on the day of the blood drive. Sannar said she and the students put posters up all around the City of Elgin and in the high school. To donate blood you must be 17 years old, or 16 with parental consent.

In addition to promotion and helping Red Cross workers, Sannar and Palmer also set up a free day care at the school for parents who were donating blood.

The FBLA’s efforts helped them exceed their goals. The Red Cross set a goal of receiving 24 pints of blood, and Elgin’s community donated 32. The Red Cross estimates just one pint of blood can be used to save three lives.

“There’s so much blood needed,” Sannar said.

Griffin said there is interest in hosting another drive like this in Elgin.

“A lot of different community members asked if we could host more drives,” the fourth-year business teacher said. “We are willing to set up another one this spring.”

Sannar said an event like a blood drive unites the community.

“I think it would help our community grow together more,” she said.

For Sannar, this spring might be just the beginning. The freshman said she hopes to hold the event every winter and spring for every year she’s in high school. After that, it may become an Elgin tradition.

“I definitely want to do it all four years,” Sannar said. “It would be awesome for someone to take it on and keep it going.”